Bob Hormats’ Welcome Return

By Kathy Kemper

Published 9/8/2009
The Hill’s Pundits Blog

Investment bankers are convenient scapegoats for America’s economic woes these days. We’re told that they’re ruthless in their pursuit of profit over people, and care little, if at all, about the consequences of that pursuit.

Enter the vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International, Dr. Robert D. Hormats.

President Obama has nominated him to serve as undersecretary of state for economic, energy, and agricultural affairs at a time when Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for an international economic policy to play a larger role in American diplomacy. He has picked the right person to pursue that goal.

Before people rush to judgments about Bob, they should realize how distinguished a background he has. He served under four presidents, from both parties, well before he joined Goldman Sachs.

Just look at his resume of government service: assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs from 1981-’82; ambassador and deputy U.S. trade representative from 1979-’81; senior deputy assistant secretary for economic and business affairs at the State Department from 1977-’79; senior staff member for international economic affairs on the National Security Council from 1969-’77.

He also brings to the table a sterling academic record, having earned a Ph.D. in international economics from Tufts University (he spent a year working on issues of economic development in rural areas of East Africa).

While at Goldman Sachs, Bob remained very active in supporting a wide range of causes, including international education and medical research. It was the first of these causes that brought us together. As one of the founders of the Center for International Education (CIE) at the Washington International School, I am a passionate believer in the importance — indeed, the imperative — of sending kids abroad to embrace other cultures, participate in community service projects, and see globalization in action. Bob played a key role in launching CIE, has been an honorary trustee of the Institute for Education (IFE) for many years, and has generously offered his time and talents in pursuit of IFE’s mission. I’ve come to admire him as someone who’s effective in building relationships across party lines and international divides, working tirelessly to restore civility. During his time in Washington, he had close ties with and enjoyed enormous respect on both sides of the aisle, as well as in the NGO community.

There’s a lot more that I could say about Bob. The bottom line, though, is that he’s not the stereotypical Wall Street personality. He uses his knowledge of international finance and economic policy to help people. In short, he combines competence with compassion.

So, thank you, President Obama and Secretary Clinton, for bringing someone like Bob back to Washington. When his confirmation hearings take place next month, I hope that those in the Senate who don’t know him will see how much our country would benefit from his return to government service.

Kemper is founder and CEO of the Institute for Education, a nonprofit foundation that recognizes and promotes leadership and civility at the local, national and international levels. She is a contributor to The Hill’s Pundits Blog.

Kathy Kemper is founder and CEO of the Institute for Education, a nonprofit foundation, headquartered in Washington, D.C., U.S.A, that recognizes and promotes leadership and civility locally, nationally and in the world community.

About the author

Coach Kathy Kemper, known as “Coach” to many, is Founder and CEO of the Institute for Education, a non-profit foundation that recognizes and promotes leadership, civility, and finding common ground, locally, nationally, and in the world community.

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